Preclinical characterization of vadadustat (AKB-6548), an oral small molecule hypoxia inducible factor prolyl-4-hydroxylase inhibitor, for the potential treatment of renal anemia

Publication Type:

Journal Article


J Pharmacol Exp Ther (2022)


<p>Pharmacological inhibition of prolyl-4-hydroxylase domain (PHD) enzymes stabilizes hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs), transcription factors that activate target genes that, among others, increase erythropoietin (EPO) synthesis, resulting in the production of new red blood cells (RBCs). Herein, we summarize the preclinical characteristics of the small molecule HIF prolyl-4-hydroxylase inhibitor vadadustat (AKB-6548), which is in development for the treatment of anemia in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Vadadustat inhibits enzyme activity of all three human PHD isozymes, PHD1, PHD2, and PHD3, with similar low nanomolar inhibitory constant values. PHD enzyme inhibition by vadadustat is competitive with endogenous cofactor 2-oxoglutarate and is insensitive to free iron concentration. In the human hepatocellular carcinoma cell line (Hep 3B) and human umbilical vein endothelial cells, PHD inhibition by vadadustat leads to the time- and concentration-dependent stabilization of HIF-1a and HIF-2a. In Hep 3B cells, this in turn results in the synthesis and secretion of EPO; vascular endothelial growth factor is not measured at detectable levels. A single oral dose of vadadustat in rats potently increases circulating levels of EPO, and daily oral dosing for 14 days increases RBC indices in healthy rats and in the 5/6 nephrectomy model of CKD. In mice and dogs, once-daily repeat oral dosing increases hemoglobin and hematocrit. Vadadustat has a relatively short half-life in all non-clinical species evaluated and does not accumulate when administered as a single bolus dose (oral or IV) or upon repeat oral dosing. The pharmacological profile of vadadustat supports continued development for treatment of renal anemia. Vadadustat (AKB-6548) is an orally bioavailable small molecule prolyl-4-hydroxylase inhibitor in development for anemia of chronic kidney disease. It is an equipotent inhibitor of the three human PHD isoforms, which activates erythropoiesis through stabilization of HIF-1a and HIF-2a, increasing production of EPO, without detectable stimulation of VEGF.</p>